Tag Archives: J Arthur Brown

Jordan Belfort, the Wolf of Wall Street

13 Jan

Jordan Belfort is the subject of the critically acclaimed new Martin Scorsese film The Wolf of Wall Street. I interviewed him in October 2010; this piece was published in the now defunct site Newstime. 

Jordan Belfort tells good stories. The best one is about how he sunk his 170 foot yacht in the Mediterranean while high on drugs. The man who had everything and then lost everything is in South Africa to give motivational talks and sales training, and as his talk draws to a close, he ends it on a high note.

He’s standing in front of an audience of around 300 high-powered businesspeople at Summer Place. There’s plenty of money here, based on what’s parked outside. John Vlismas, the MC, chuckles about the obvious: how appropriate it is that Belfort is speaking here, in a venue that once belong to a man known for his rather cavalier attitude to ethical business practices.

Ghosts of other great South African swindlers linger in the collective memory: Brett Kebble, J Arthur Brown, Adriaan Niewoudt, the brains behind the Kubus scam. There’s Greg Blank, who did his time and is back leading his racehorses into the winner’s circle. Barry Tannenbaum, who is all the way on the other side of the world, on the Gold Coast, holding tight as he escapes justice. I’m reminded of Tannenbaum when I watch YouTube videos of Belfort presenting to Virgin Australia. South African white-collar criminals seem to like it in Australia; so many of them go there. Continue reading

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